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Reader James asks (in John D's post):
I wonder if there have been any instances of (presumably) grateful Iraqis offering their daughters in marriage to American Marines & soldiers.
I don't know about Iraqis, but an old Sergeant Major I knew from my VMI days was "given" a 14 year old girl while serving in Turkey.
He traded her for a rug though.
Oh and I'm back, btw.
...I thought I would drop in and leave this little bit on info for Lieutenant Watada (since he's *also* in the area).
Below child molesters are spies and people who take the paycheck and benefits then refuse to deploy to combat situations. Yolanda Hewitt-Vaughn was treated like dirt and everyone looked down on her.
If you'd like to read where that little tidbit came from - drop by Castle Argghhh! and read it here.
Froggy rounds up links to Lebanese blogs.
...the issue ahead of us if that of Hezbollah and Hamas being wielded as instruments of provocation by Syria and Iran to stir up another national liberation conflict and mobilize us all for the march to hell, with many of us applauding all the way. In this regard, the Assads’ success in imposing this new round of conflict upon us all is going to doom us all.Start at the top and scroll. (Note, the blog has a soundtrack - don't be surprised when it starts playing.)
Even more Lebanese bloggers (via Star from Mosul):
And more here.
Still more: an email from an American in Beirut. Yes, the Embassy will be overwhelmed during such a crisis. And yes, there are plans to evacuate American citizens in such events, but apparently the person he spoke to was unaware. I'm speaking of noncombatant evacuation operations - AKA "NEO" - which generally involve the US Marines or SOF guys. It's telling that such an op hasn't been ordered for Beirut, but no doubt somebody somewhere is "standing by."
Here's the instruction manual.
Anyone who has been stationed in Korea and especially Yongsan should really go and check out this photograph of Yongsan in the 1940's. Pretty amazing picture when compared to today. Additionally read this great link about the history of foreign occupation of Yongsan Garrison in Seoul:
The headquarters of the ``Chosun (Korean) military command’’ were located in the Yongsan area on the grounds now occupied by the 8th U.S. Army. The Yongsan area attracted the attention of the Japanese military as early as 1894 _ perhaps because of its proximity to the Han River, which provided the easiest medium of communication in that pre-railway age. When a Japanese brigade arrived in Korea in May 1894, it camped at Yongsan, laying foundation for the long tradition of a foreign military presence in the area. From the 1910s, Yongsan already housed barracks, military installations, and officers’ accommodation. Incidentally, Yongsan was also the place from which the first airplane ventured into Korean skies. In 1913, Lt. Narahara of the Japanese Navy designed and tested an experimental airplane. The test flights took place at the training grounds of the Japanese forces in Yongsan.
Here is a sobering stat if you are a Korean, from 1884 until today there hasn't been a year when Korea hasn't had a sizable foreign military presence on their soil.
Comments from Israeli officials, as reported in the New York Times (emphasis added):
...Israeli officials said there would be a long campaign to restore the country’s security, both along its southern border with Gaza and its northern one with Lebanon. The Israelis want to restore their military credibility with the Palestinian militants and the Hamas government in Gaza and with Hezbollah, and say they intend to make the current campaign painful for both sets of antagonists.
The Israelis say they want the message to get across to Syria and Iran, the countries widely considered to be the main sponsors of Hezbollah and Palestinian militancy.
A senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official, Gideon Meir, told reporters on Thursday that Israel had “concrete evidence that Hezbollah plans to transfer the kidnapped soldiers to Iran,” but he gave no specifics or source for the claim. “As a result,” Mr. Meir said, “Israel views Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran as the main players in the axis of terror and hate that endangers not only Israel, but the entire world.”
Israeli concerns that the soldiers may be moved out of Lebanon are a prime reason for its efforts to blockade the country and prevent air traffic, Mr. Meir said later.
In Germany, President Bush and Chancellor Merkel addressed reporters. While the main topic was a response to Iran on nuclear issues, the Israel/Hamas/Hezbollah issue was also discussed. Full text here, portions on Israel below.
We also addressed the very disturbing situation in the Middle East, and it fills us with concern and we have also stated clearly that everything needs to be done in order to come back to a peaceful resolution. We need to remind all of us again how this escalation started, with the kidnaping of a soldier, through rockets -- for the firing of missiles against Israeli territory. And we can only urge all parties, appeal to all parties to stop, to cease violence and to also release the kidnaped soldier, and to stop this firing of missiles at Israeli territory.President Bush:
We would like to appeal to the powers in the region to see to it that further escalation is warded off, and that, first and foremost, the root causes of this conflict are removed. And only in this way will a negotiating process become possible again. We have every interest in seeing the Lebanese government be strengthened and this government being able to pursue its policies in a sensible and secure environment.
We talked about the Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli issues with Hezbollah, and our common desire to work together to help bring peace to that troubled region.
My attitude is this: There are a group of terrorists who want to stop the advance of peace. And those of -- who are peace-loving must work together to help the agents of peace -- Israel, President Abbas, and others -- to achieve their objective. You got to understand when peace advances, it's in the terrorists' interests in some cases to stop it. And that's what's happening.Questions and answers followed:
We were headed toward the road map, things looked positive, and terrorists stepped up and kidnaped a soldier, fired rockets into Israel. Now we've got two more kidnapings up north. Hezbollah doesn't want there to be peace. The militant arm of Hamas doesn't want there to be peace. And those of us who do want peace will continue to work together to encourage peace.
Q A question addressed to you both. You talked about the Middle East, and what is your assessment of the military action of Israel in Lebanon? The French Foreign Minister already said it is disproportionate. Does that give you cause for Europe or the United States to intervene?All done!
CHANCELLOR MERKEL: ...Well, as to the violence in the Middle East, particularly as regards Lebanon, I think that one needs to be very careful to make a clear distinction between the root causes and the consequences of something. So we started here from a case of kidnaping of a soldier, and one of the other root causes also is the activity of Hezbollah. And it's most important for the Israeli government to be strengthened, but it is also clearly shown that these incursions, such as the kidnaping of soldiers, is not acceptable.
And the parties to that conflict obviously have to use proportionate means, but I am not at all for sort of blurring the lines between the root causes and the consequences of an action. There has to be a good reaction now, not from the Israeli government, but from those who started these attacks in the first place.
PRESIDENT BUSH: -- to help calm the situation, we've got diplomats in the region. Secretary of State Rice, who is here, is on the phone talking to herf counterparts. I'll be making calls.
I gave you my initial impression earlier, and that is that it's a sad situation where -- when there is a very good chance for there to be a two-state solution enacted -- that is two states living side-by-side in peace -- it's really sad where people are willing to take innocent life in order to stop that progress. As a matter of fact, it's pathetic.
And having said that, Israel has a right to defend herself. Every nation must defend herself against terrorist attacks and the killing of innocent life. It's a necessary part of the 21st century.
Secondly, we -- whatever Israel does, though, should not weaken the Siniora government in Lebanon. We're concerned about the fragile democracy in Lebanon. We've been working very hard through the United Nations and with partners to strengthen the democracy in Lebanon. The Lebanese people have democratic aspirations, which is being undermined by the actions and activities of Hezbollah.
Thirdly, Syria needs to be held to account. Syria is housing the militant wing of Hamas. Hezbollah has got an active presence in Syria. The truth of the matter is, if we really want there to be -- the situation to settle down, the soldiers need to be returned, and President Assad needs to show some leadership toward peace.
To answer your question about the involvement, we will be involved diplomatically, and are involved diplomatically.
Q Does the Beirut -- the attack on the Beirut airport, does that concern you, and are you concerned about triggering a wider Middle East war?
PRESIDENT BUSH: As I mentioned, my biggest concern is whether or not actions taken will weaken the Siniora government. Democracy in Lebanon is an important part of laying a foundation for peace in that region. We have worked really hard to get Syria out of Lebanon -- U.N. Resolution 1559, and it's follow-up Resolution 1680 were manifestations of the work of the international community to get Syria out of Lebanon. We've always felt that a democracy in Lebanon is important for the Lebanese people, and it's important for the region.
So the concern is that any activities by Israel to protect herself will weaken that government. And we have made that -- or topple that government -- and we've made it clear in our discussions.
Having said all that, people need to protect themselves. There are terrorists who will blow up innocent people in order to achieve tactical objectives. In this case, the objective is to stop the advance of peace -- which is a remarkable statement, isn't it? Willing to kill to stop peace.
We have a good chance to get a two-state solution, two democracies living side-by-side in peace. It is a clear and achievable vision. There is a way forward called the road map to achieve that vision. What will prevent that vision from being achieved is -- are terrorist activities, and that's what you're seeing taking place.
In my view, Iran and Syria are engaged in "all out war" although the form is currently asymmetric war by proxy.
Since the goals for Iran and Syria include the complete destruction of Israel and, at least, the neutering of the United States, I consider them to be seeking "total" victory. I would argue that this includes the removal of any restraint on their ability pursue their national or extranational interests (perhaps in re-establishing the Caliphate?).
And, though their approach is not masses of tanks and waves of aircraft, they are fighting on their schedule and within their capabilities. They are subordinating everything to the war effort. Thus, it is, in my view, "total war." It is not being fought like previous wars. It is being fought on several fronts.
Iran is "continuing politics by other means" through its surrogate actions. Walid Phares has identified four goals Iran wants to gain through this current effort at misdirection (or a feint?):
1. Iran is concerned about the nuclear crisis and wants to deflate the issue away.But these concerns are but a small part of the larger war which includes support of terrorists, Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and pieces of the Iraqi "insurgency."
2. Syria is concerned about the Hariri murder investigation and wishes to postpone its results.
3. Hizbollah is concerned about the call for disarming its militias and therefore decided to flare up the conflict with Israel.
4. Finally, Hamas was sinking in crisis with Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah. Thus a Jihad against Israel was the solution.
In addition to the attacks on civilians and other indices of total war, the war continues with propaganda, perhaps including tripe like this which asks one part of the Iranian goal, "Imagine a world without Israel."
If your goal is total destruction of another state and you have announced that goal and taken steps to make it come true, then it smells like "all out war" to me. "Death to the United States" is a goal, not just a chant.
What is currently happening may be just a skirmish or it may be the beginning of a bigger battle. But it is part of a larger whole. An "all out" war, in my view.